With pen in hand, Josh ‘Bump’ Galletta fought his way from the depths of trauma and wielded his gift to draw a future for himself and his family.
Bump met his wife, Mary, at a summer camp in Georgia, where they’re both from. The couple’s seventeenth anniversary is coming up and through the almost two decades of their union, their love has endured. This is reflected in the way Bump talks about Mary and in their two beautiful kids, Emmersyn and Fynn.
Prior to his life as a full-time illustrator, Bump was a youth pastor for twenty years which brought him to Lakeland eleven years ago.
Eight years ago, on a day trip to visit family in Jacksonville, Bump, who had taken up cycling in the months prior, took a bike ride that would change the trajectory of his life. Towards the end of that 8-mile ride, he was struck by a car that threw him twenty-five feet and in the confusion of the moment, the driver backed over him. His injuries were serious. “They were trying to keep me alive at the scene,” he remembered.
In shock, with paramedics trying to keep him conscious, all Bump worried about was making sure the nicest officer available would tell his wife. Mary was eight and a half months pregnant at the time and he feared the news might send her into early labor. The accident kept him in the hospital for a month, including several weeks in the ICU. “It changed our lives,” he said.
In the months following the accident, Bump sought counseling after he learned he had PTSD. His counselor told him to find something he loved, put everything he had into it, and then release it. For Bump, this was drawing. This hobby he had loved since childhood was going to be the way he would release all of the pain, and anxiety, and flashbacks, and trauma. Galletta has been drawing his whole life. Doodles of tv characters and action heroes filled the pages of school notebooks and he began freelancing his art and illustrations as a teenager.
Because of his connection to art, his interpretation of his counselor’s advice was to draw a picture that he loved and hide it for someone else to find. He pulled inspiration from Banksy’s street art and skateboarder Tony Hawk who, according to Bump, would leave any free merch he received in a public place as a gift to a stranger. “I like to mix both of those together in my own way and hide my art somewhere with a sign that says, ‘Free Art!’ on it,” he explained.
One of the first pieces he drew and hid after the accident was a pair of robots. A fan of Norman Rockwell, Bump drew the vintage robots in the same pose as the subjects of Rockwell’s iconic “Boy and Girl Gazing at the Moon (Puppy Love).” He continues to hide his free art locally and in the places he travels.
After the prints came shirts, mugs, hats, and commissioned work. His business built steadily from a “side hustle” to his bread and butter. Bump continued to work in the ministry until May of 2018 when he stepped away to pursue illustration full time. His portfolio is full of monochromatic sunshine state pride, inside jokes, and commissions of families, houses, pet portraits, album art, maps, patent designs, and commercial work.
For Bump and Mary, success didn’t come overnight. It was a hidden drawing here, a pop-up market there, a resolve of steel to keep going, and the support of family and community that propelled the venture. It was at one of these markets that modern furniture and home decor store, West Elm, approached him about carrying his products. Incredulous at first, Bump met with West Elm. They didn’t just want him for one store – they wanted Bump Galletta in all of their Florida stores. “To be there on their shelves now, it’s really cool,” Bump said. “You know how you daydream sometimes, but you never think this is going to be a reality?” He reflected, “It’s funny how it went from something that was therapy and to cope to now it’s providing for our family.”
Creativity Runs in the Family
Fynn and Emmersyn also have a knack for the creative. Bump’s son likes to take things apart and build, and his daughter is trying her hand at everything from sewing to calligraphy. “They both have a creative element, but they also have an entrepreneur about them,” said Bump. At some of the markets he attends, he’ll set up a table next to his for the kids where they’ll do watercolors or portraits. He smiled, “There were sometimes when they made more money than I did at the market selling these little $3 paintings.”
Beyond the Ink
When he doesn’t have a pen to paper, Bump likes to collect records and spend time with his family. From the beach to the mountains or a bike ride to Born & Bread, they are always on the go. He founded and continues to be involved with the LKLD Creative Makers, a networking group for creatives.
Another passion project is his podcast, “Low Down with Bump.” From his friends to makers, movers and shakers, Bump has interviewed the likes of Mayor Bill Mutz, Nicole Travis with the CRA, LKLD Now’s Barry Friedman, and others. “I get inspired by other people so it’s just my way of sharing stories I really like,” Bump said of the podcast.
His past in youth ministry has given him a heart for volunteerism. He has given his time and talent for organizations like Parker Street and Gospel Inc. “I like to choose my give-back because I feel like I’ve been given a second chance,” he said.
Check out his website to purchase his work, find a list of stores that carry them, and sign up for his newsletter. Follow his social media to see the markets he’ll be attending and keep your eye out for a piece of free art to add to your collection!
Podcast: Low Down with Bump